The Pencil


By Allan Ahlberg, Illustrated by Bruce Ingman

Candlewick Press, 2008

Once there was a pencil, a lonely little pencil, and nothing else. It lay there, which was nowhere in particular, for a long, long time. Then one day that little pencil made a move, shivered slightly, quivered somewhat…and began to draw.

Creating a world is tricky business, as the titular pencil of this book soon learns. The more freedom you give people — or things — the more they demand. A lonely pencil draws a boy to keep him company, but the boy immediately wants a name…and a dog. The dog wants a cat, the cat wants a mouse, and so the comical story unspools. Instead of appreciating their existence, the drawings demand the pencil improve them. (“This hat looks silly,” said Mrs. “My ears are too big,” said Mr. “I shouldn’t be smoking a pipe,” said a grandpa. “Get rid of these ridiculous sneakers!” yelled Elsie.) In an effort to appease everyone, the pencil creates an eraser.  But that eraser has a mind of its own…This book is a first-rate example of “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”

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